Monday, November 16, 2009

Give out the short story, sell the novel

iTunes made it possible to sell small music elements (songs) without needing to buy the whole work -the record-. And it made sense, not only because many people used to buy a CD just because of one or two songs, but because the psychology of the price (hey, is just $,99) and because one song is easily consumed on its own.

Can the same be applied to single articles, tales, a short video and any kind of single multimedia piece? Or the 'small stuff' is condemned to be free int he internet? Bill Wasik, Senior Editor of Harper's Magazine, bets for the latter.

Is easy to see a chapter sample, a small video related to a bigger one or a short comic strip as the -free- hook for a future sell. I also understand that give away excerpts or examples is the better way to promote you as an artist or a content producer.

But does it mean that selling small pieces in the internet will be a mission impossible? I think so. At least if we think about isolated objects that can be consumed in less than 10 minutes. Compilations will be the only way for short pieces to get to the market.

So, why someone will pay $,99 for a song and not the same for a videoclip or $,1 for a newspaper article? Because the users are used to pay $,99 for a good quality mp3, but always have seen videos or read articles for free. The only way this habit could be changed is with such a great user experience that would become a value in itself.

When Wasik talks about the non profit business model for newspapers I guess that he's also thinking about this: how difficult is to make the users pay for what always was for free.


Friday, November 13, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549 3D Reconstruction

Kas Osterbuhr, an engineer at K3 Resources who specializes in the visual presentation of complex data, goes one step further while showing how the the US Airways Flight 1549 crashed over the Hudson River. It reconstructs the flight using vast amounts of material, including radar information showing the position of the geese that led to the Airbus A320 losing power. The result is an incredible series of videos. This was the main one. Here are all of them.

The whole story, in Wired.

[Via Xocas]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hulu's doubts may be others' chances

I love to see 30 Rock in Hulu. In fact is the only way I can do it, as I'm in my wonderful Web Strategies for Storytelling class when it's aired. The video and audio quality is good, the ads are few and not too horrible -great moment to check the mail- and if you want more you can access to any other episode in just two clicks. It works for me, and I don't really care if it works for Hulu's owners.

So I fully understand Quincy Smith's and Laura Martin's points: Why did they (Disney, GE and NewsCorp) decided to do it so well and so easy if they were not sure about how to make money of it?

Now it would be pretty hard to tell the users "hey, we've changed our minds and a) we're not going to put as much content online or b) we are going to charge you for what now is free". You need to be very careful with that kind of moves.

The strength of Hulu comes from the fact that some of the biggest players had agreed to act together. That way they get more than decent prices for the ads -$50 CPM is just amazing. The basic CPM for regular banners in a web site without special campaigns is just $1- and an offer big enough for the users to stay hours in the site. Others like Turner's Adult Swim or CBS' Social Room are too small or more experimental, and have less reach than Hulu.

All that said, if Hulu decides to charge for the films and episodes, not only would be the time for other smaller and free players to get new users, but also the time for more open and social-media like options. I'm thinking about Boxee, an open software media center that aggregates the most interesting free video content online and that even enables Torrent downloads from all kind of platforms. This application has been awarded at the CES as Best product in the 'Maximum tech' category and will turn from alpha to beta in a month. The more good quality video content that applications as Boxee are able to offer the less impressive and essential Hulu would look like.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Good storytelling makes the audience fill in the blanks

Both oral and writing storytelling have a quality that has really worked for them: part of the story always happen/is produced in the imagination of the audience. You can make a very detailed description of a dress or the view from a window, but each one pictures something different in their mind. The person who is reading or listening usually adds not only sensory aspects to the narration, but also personal memories to the narration. So she or he is never passive, always interacts in any way with the story itself.

For visual representational media things can be different, as some times the storytelling tries to give all the information to the audience. I'm thinking about video content, which usually drives the audience through all the details of the story, making the spectator passive. But a photo, drawing or painting can also tell a whole story by itself. Those cases usually ask for a talented storyteller and an audience ready to fill in the blanks.

What about web storytelling?
The Internet makes it possible to combine different formats in the same piece. This comes to be not only an advantage, but also a danger, as we can confuse the viewers with format changes or fall into aesthetic temptations.

A good web narrative should do two things: provide space for the reader to 'fill' some information and engage the user asking for his or her interaction at some points.

The web storyteller need to be sure that each part of the story is told using the format that makes more sense from the own story point of view.

For me a perfect marriage for web storytelling could come from the mix of video and flash infographics, where the infography in itself is the container and video provides framed stories inside the whole story.


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